Category Archives: san francisco

A letter from the Mayor of Hot Chip: San Francisco Show Review

Happy weekend, reader!

Well, my friends and I are almost finished sharing our recent San Francisco adventures with you. Today marks the very last show review, and we saved the best for last: Hot Chip.

This show review is provided by graphic artist, marathon runner, and crepe connoisseur Andrew Rutkowski.  British sensations The xx opened for Hot Chip, so Andrew kindly included their brand new video for “Islands.” Is everyone here already intimately familiar with The xx? Because, ZOMG, they are incredible. And all under 20 years old! (what am I doing with my life?!)

Anyhoo, here is Andrew, i.e. “Mayor of Hot Chip” (you’ll find out why in a second) reporting da show:

Out of the several shows we had lined up, I was most excited to see Hot Chip and The xx. I’m a huge fan of both bands, so I knew it’d be great. I keep a running list of bands that I would travel to see and Hot Chip has been on it ever since I missed them at ACL 2008.

Unlike the other shows we had scheduled for the trip, this one was in Oakland, which required a 15-minute train ride out of the city. The Fox Theater was gorgeous. Really, nothing in Austin compares to it. This is apparently due to a $75 million overhaul — money well spent, I’d say.

We made our way up about 10 feet from the stage, and discovered another gem in the Fox Theater’s crown—the venue had cocktail waitresses! It was already shaping up to be a night to (try to) remember.

The openers for Hot Chip were The xx, a London-based trio all under 20 years old. I am constantly impressed with their music because they are able to say so much with so little. Their sound is restrained both musically and lyrically. It’s romantic and relatable without being trite.

Take these lyrics from Islands, for example. “I don’t have to leave anymore, what I have is right here. Spend my nights and days before searching the world for what’s right here. I am yours now, so now I don’t ever have to leave. I’ve been found out, so now I’ll never explore.” Swooooon.

I would seriously fall for anyone who wrote this for me, sang this to me or even played this on their iPhone while standing outside my window. I think Tolly said it best when she tweeted “The XX = so dreamy. Watching them right now. Good songs for loving, if ya know what I mean.” I know what you mean, Tolly.

And here’s the new video for “Islands.” Perfect.

Their live performance is delivered with such emotion and artfulness that I get goosebumps every time I see them (this was my third time). The videos I took on GARY!‘s camera seemed to have disappeared, so you’ll have to trust me when I say: CATCH THEM LIVE if you can.

The xx’s mellow set provided a perfect balance to what was next—the biggest dance party the Fox Theater has ever seen. Hot Chip has put out four studio albums and are known for their witty lyrics and body-shaking beats. We were somehow forced up to the second row in-between sets, but I wasn’t complaining. Second row for Hot Chip was not a bad place to be.

As a huge Hot Chip fan, I love a lot of their obscure, lesser known songs. I didn’t expect to hear very many of them, if any at all. However, they put together an amazing set, with some of my fave obscurities excluded, a mix of the up-tempo songs from their newly-released album and older crowd favorites. “One Life Stand” is the title track from their latest album, and sounded great live.

Unfortunately, this was the only video of the show I got from that night. I was firmly told to stop recording by security because I was rocking too hard! (That wasn’t the real reason). So I obliged. But thanks to YouTube, I found this video someone else took at the show. Here’s “One Pure Thought.”

And the end of their set, Hot Chip left the stage leaving two of their biggest tracks – including “Ready for the Floor” – untouched, so I knew we were up for a mega-encore. And it was epic.

The encore consisted of “I Feel Better,” “No Fit State” (one of those fave obscurities of mine) and… READY FOR THE FLOOR! Once the crowd recognized Ready For the Floor after a brief intro, it was ON. Everyone was dancing like they were auditioning for Dance TV, and here’s a video for Ready For the Floor that was taken from the balcony. (You can see our dance group at the front just right of center).

I think it was Tolly that dubbed me mayor of Hot Chip at this point. I didn’t realize I was running for the Mayor of anything, but I’ll take it. (EDITOR’S NOTE: Y’all this is because Andrew LITERALLY colonized the dance floor. As in, shaking hands with strangers, kissing babies, and asking if he could count on them to dance their ass off for “Ready for the Floor,” just like a real mayor!) I put a lot of sweat, double high jumps and crowd-hyping into that night, so I guess the designation was rightfully earned.

The crowd was huge factor to my fondness of this performance. We made a lot of nameless friends that night. Also, I hadn’t noticed the whole show, but I turned around after the encore and saw this. Wow.

Afterwards, I got the set list. Score.

And Tolly and GARY! did this.

Au revoir, San Francisco, The xx, and Hot Chip!


San Francisco show review: Miike Snow.

If you’ve been anywhere near SXSW, Brooklyn Vegan, or an episode of Gossip Girl lately, you’ve heard of Miike Snow. An innocuous-enough sounding moniker, until you realize that’s “Miike” with two I’s, not one. The extra “I” means that it’s time to party.

I first came across Miike Snow like most people did, with the animal head-heavy music video.

This song, along with “Cult Logic,” remains Miike Snow’s most popular contribution to the 2009 cadre of indie dance grooves. If synthesizers make you drool, like they certainly do me, you’ll find its marriage on this track with light reggae beats a refreshing way to get down. The sound is familiar and yet, like nothing you’ve ever heard before.

Then again, maybe it is. GARY! informed me that Miike Snow isn’t “Miike Snow,” the frontman’s real name is Andrew Wyatt. And that his main production collaborators are Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg, known in the music world as Bloodshy & Avant, and even better known as the Grammy-winning pair who laid down the “Toxic” track for Britney Spears.  Proving that, in the world of music economics, there really is such a thing as the trickle-down effect.

But enough of this Reagan talk: Let’s talk about Miike Snow’s SHOW that I caught recently.  Happy, GARY!, Andrew and my two dear friends from Sacramento, Jon and Ila, went to go see this group and Delorean exactly two weeks ago at San Francisco’s La Zona Rosa-like venue, The Independent, an excited beehive of tight pants and hipsters.

So, this is exactly how I felt while watching Miike Snow.  You may be asking, “were you on a crazy drug trip?” The answer is no, I was not, but I was in fact standing behind the tallest damn man in the world, requiring me to experience the whole thing by jumping up and down in place.

Miike Snow – pardon me, “Andrew” – and his friends started out the show wearing Phantom of the Opera masks, which tickled Jon and me to no end. Before the set began, we looked at each other, and as so often happens with this man, intuited each others’ thoughts. And in this case those thoughts were lifted directly from Andrew Lloyd Webber: “Think of me / think of me FONDly / when we’ve said GOOD-BYE!”

Oh, Phantom. How you deserved Christine.

Back to Miike Snow: Well the set was incredible, of course. I got a harder cardio workout than I ever do at the gym. Here they are, masks-adorned, performing “Burial.”

Next up was “Sylvia,” masks off.  Are you as surprised as I am by how much Andrew, the lead singer, resembles John Lennon?

Anyway, because we had just been spoiled the night before on the endearing stage antics of Sia, I was hoping for a little more audience interaction…some, “hey San Francisco!” thrown in between songs. But in keeping with the band’s mysterious aura – WE WEAR PHANTOM MASKS AND AREN’T GOING TO TELL YOU WHY – no trifling chatty-chat fell from the mouths of Miike Snow. Le sigh.

The highlight of the set for me, however, was the pseudo-tribal version of “Animal,” accompanied by big, deafening drums. You know that scene at the end of Apocalypse Now when they slaughter the buffalo and chop it all to pieces and it gets all jungle-psycho? That’s how I felt, all intense and savage! (Says the middle class white girl, checking horoscopes on her iPhone, chewing on a pen that says “Eat at Jason’s Deli!”).

After that, I tumbled out of The Independent with Jon onto the street, where we giggled about God knows what.  Phantom of the Opera?  Slankets? The hit film and 1988 dance musical, Salsa?  These are all distinct possbilities.

Later, we traipsed around the city with our band of friendly fools, ducking into a classy bar, then into a seedy diner, and finally into a taxi cab whose driver casually played disturbing tenets of Scientology over a cassette tape. We laughed. The driver did not. At one point, GARY! wrote, “HE IS GOING TO KILL US” on his cell phone, in a feeble attempt to stifle our life-threatening giggles.

But we made it home alive.


A post from GARY: Sia, I told you so.

Hello my darlings.  Over the next couple of days, we’re going to do a mini-series of posts here on Austin Eavesdropper covering the bands (and vineyards!) my friends and I got to see in San Francisco this month. That way, if they ever come to Austin, you can impress your company with the inside scoop.

First up is Sia, with a show review by GARY! Now, I wasn’t that familiar with Sia before GARY! told me about her, but I can tell you in all honesty that this was one of the most moving performances I have ever attended. Maybe it was the fact that a man proposed to his future wife in the middle of it. I am not joking. Or maybe, it was the woman who REMOVED HER PROSTHETIC LEG DURING THE SHOW and tried to give it to Sia as a heartfelt gift. I’m not joking about that, either.

But more likely, the magic of Sia’s shows can be explained by her own candid, warm, and very real stage presence. She actually talks to people during the show. She remembers individual fans in the audience, and thanks everyone profusely after each song. In short, she’s one of those people you would be a fan of anyway, whether she was a singer, an actress, or a Starbucks barista. All it takes is a few seconds around this woman, and you are completely and forever won over.

Here’s GARY! with a little more about Sia, and our live show experience:

Oh, SIA.

Friends, the first time I became familiar with this Australian song bird was on a dance compilation I acquired many years ago, from a DJ in Houston. The track was “Drink to Get Drunk,” and if you were ever in a club back around 2001/2002, you have probably heard it before.  Alternatively, if you were ever a Six Feet Under fan, you may also be familiar with “Breathe Me,” a Sia song that backed the epic season finale in the show’s very last episode.

But despite a rabid fan base, Sia never really achieved mainstream success in America.

Back in November though, she leaked a dance-y, upbeat pop track from her Twitter account: “You’ve Changed.”

Given that Sia’s previous albums consisted mainly of atmospheric downtempo tracks and ballads that dealt more with substance than catchy pop hooks, “You’ve Changed” marked a departure – especially from quieter, more thoughtful pieces, like “Soon We’ll Be Found.”

Quite versatile, yes?

We caught Sia at the wonderful Regency Ballroom while we were in San Francisco. Some things you should know about a Sia concert:

1. Presents or “prezzies” for Sia are always welcome and will be discussed onstage at length,
2. Crowd interaction is encouraged,
3. If you knit, bring your gear because Sia will let you up onstage to knit while she sings,
4. Her fans are some of the nicest people you will ever meet,
5. Be prepared to get to know your performer. Sia isn’t just there to sing, she’s there to chat. Not only does she talk to the audience, she lets the audience talk to her (sometimes inviting them onstage for the purpose),
6. This is the longest show I have ever been to. Her set lasted about two hours that night.

Here she is performing “Never Gonna Leave Me.” To get a real taste of this experience, I kept the tape running while she accepted a few random “prezzies” from fans, and then, acted as videographer for a marriage proposal (wait for minute 5:04):

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Tolly here, that video totally made me tear up).

Next, here is a gorgeous cover of Madonna’s “Oh Father,” which I believe will be released on her new album We Are Born (available June 22).

This next clip comes from another fan at the show who captured yours truly offering the shirt off his back! I guess you could say I got caught up in the moment, as did the guy who, after me, threw his pants on stage.

Sia eventually offered to give back that infamous pair of pants back to the now pant-less fan. Please note the enormous homemade bubble-blowing wing contraption she wears while negotiating with him.

Don’t you love how she continues to hold/display the pants as she begins the next song? Haha.

Anyway, I taped a whole mess of other songs, so if you like what you see here, check out my mini Sia YouTube channel of videos from that night. We loved this girl, and pray to God she comes to Austin some day.

That’s all I got,



San Francisco, off the beaten path.

Oh, Reader.  San Francisco and its attending locales are silly with sensory pleasures. Vintage clothing on Haight Street, music in grand old Oakland theaters, dim sum in Chinatown. But you knew that already.

Some of my favorite memories from this past week in San Francisco actually happened slightly off the beaten path. Am I getting old?  I must be: While slightly embarrassed to admit this to you, I confess that next to meeting up with old friends from Sacramento, I enjoyed our excursions to wine country and a science museum best of all. This, after a string of mind-blowing musical performances. I know. Am undeniably older.  Either that, or gay men – my band of companions – simply do not age like the rest of us. A semi-plausible theory when you think about it.

Here are some of my favorite shots from those two trips. Wine country first, then museum. Guess what the last picture is!


San Francisco calling.

Hello friends!

GARY!, Andrew, Happy and I are on Day 3 here in San Francisco, and last night, we met up with my beloved Sacramento friends, Jon and Ila. It’s been a whirlwind of shows, dance parties, kindred spirits, hearts-beating-in-time and louder-than-necessary squeals, and every time I see something lovely, I am definitely that obnoxious person who goes, “WAIT, stop. Picture time!”

Here is what I have spied with my little eye.

I had a pretty proud pun moment here. “Who needs their homework grated?” I said.

Chinatown, where we ate our first day. Coincidentally, it was at a dim sum place my dad and I actually visited years ago, New Asia, where groups of Chinese performers sometimes put on shows – during lunch – on a stage flanked by more chandeliers than the eye can see. Isn’t that how every lunch should be?


This is a temporary, free zip line currently set up near Fisherman’s Wharf that I am campaigning to go on. The only problem is, you have to travel there and get in line way early (7:00!) for a wrist band before they run out, and we can never get up at that hour. Girls and gays need their beauty sleep.

Love from San Fran!

(I miss you, Ross and Claudia!)